I'm about to take a 12-day vacation. So now is, of course, the perfect time to start thinking about my next vacation.
For me, the anticipation and daydreaming are half the fun of a trip, and that's why I took a shine to Hitlist. The free app, which recently received a significant upgrade on iOS, is all about exploring places you might want to go next. (Hitlist is also available for Android, but as of this writing, the most recent version was released on March 30.)
Plot plans from afar with Hitlist
Hitlist is logically organized and attractive looking. You start by tapping the "Explore" icon to browse categories of destinations. Many of the categories are imaginative and interesting, such as "Iconic hotel bars across America," a list that's curated by Insidehook.com and accompanied by a blog post on hotel bars (with recipes).
Other categories, while compelling, lack the necessary context. The "James Bond Film Locations" list doesn’t include details on the specific films or locations at a destination. The "Best cities for vegans" list simply includes cities with "countless vegan restaurants," but it doesn't offer information on the restaurants themselves. And the "Bitcoin accepted" category just lists cities "that accept Bitcoin."
Other ways to browse include tapping the "Trips" icon, which helps you plan "Weekend Getaways" or one or more "Suggested Trips," with timely ideas for Labor Day weekend and, a little further out, Oktoberfest.
Hitlist gives you flight itineraries and airfares, courtesy of Skyscanner, a Kayak competitor. You see how far away a destination is from your local airport; current airfare deals; and a graph that shows the month that airfares from your city to that destination are the lowest. Though this integration with Skyscanner works fine, I prefer Kayak's straightforward mobile interface.
Hitlist's new iOS features include the ability to save vacation plans and share them with others, and more social interaction tools. For example, you can view places your friends have been or want to go. Though the app works on iPad, it's not optimized for Apple tablets, which is a shame.
Bottom line on Hitlist
I've seen apps like Hitlist come and go, for various reasons. The similar iPad app Desti is no longer available and has been incorporated into Here, the mapping service and app. And Google acquired the team behind Jetpac, another iPad app for travel daydreaming, to help improve location searches using photographic data.
At any rate, I don't see Hitlist as a be-all, end-all travel app. I see it as a starting point, an app to fire your imagination about your next vacation — preferably while you're on a current vacation.